Race 4: another forward step

This weekend was our final outing of the year – at the Clay Pigeon Kart Club Turkey Trot. A weekend of 6am starts for one final time this year! You know how I hate it when the kart gets soaked enroute? Let’s just say you wouldn’t know I had cleaned it the week before from the dirt it was covered in by the time I arrived at a sunny Clay.

Saturday was a really good day – we had a mixture of damp and dry tracks so a bit more much needed wet practice but, as the track got grippier in the afternoon, we looked pretty decent (especially after moving up to the gold restrictor – Junior could really feel the difference in bottom-end power). When the track was at it’s quickest, we were just over 0.5s off the pace but it was the first time Junior had been overtaken by one of the quicker drivers and then stuck with them rather than watching him sail away – he even looked like he was going to have a go back!!! 🙂 We’ve had a few false dawns so I didn’t get too excited – race day often reveals the starker truth. The kart got soaked again on the way home which meant I spent the evening drying it 🙁

I really didn’t want to hear the alarm ring but I kicked myself out of bed at the usual time. We had our clearest ever run to Clay – a grand total of 2 cars were in front of us during the entire journey. And it didn’t rain 🙂

The warm-up was good – the track was easily too wet for slicks even though there had been no rain for some time. If it’s going to be slippy, I would much rather there wasn’t a dry line so that the tyre choice is easy. For us, with used wets, we don’t have the risk of writing off a £160 set tyres so the borderline calls can sometimes play in our favour. It was only a warm-up though. Heat 1 was ok too; disappointingly there were only three of us racing – two of this season’s front runners and Junior! We were continually losing ground but only finished 15s and 10s behind over the 12 laps. Heat 2 was probably the one that was a little disappointing although it was probably my fault –  we were losing over a second a lap pretty much the whole way through although Junior’s race wasn’t helped by his fuel tank bolt falling off and then him completing the final laps holding the tank between his knees!!! I normally wrap velcro around the tank to stop if moving but, for some reason, the velcro had spent the weekend in the boot. I think the biggest problem though was me running a much higher pressure than was called for – the tyres had gained 3.5-4PSI during the race and you could see that we weren’t using as much of the tyre as we should have been. Tyre pressures are the hardest thing for me to gauge – especially in the cold/damp conditions. One to put down to experience…

The track was now dry so we switched to a full dry setup and I thought I would move down a couple of teeth just to experiment – we were going to finish last anyway so I wanted to see if Junior felt a difference. Then it rained! Although the track did dry by the time of the final, I didn’t have time to replace the sprocket so we had a lower gearing on a damp track, slicks on a wet setup. My reasoning was it wasn’t dry enough for a full dry setup but slicks were essential so I did what I thought was right. It didn’t turn out too badly though – we lost under a second a lap, so although we were 19s and two thirds of a lap adrift at the end of the 20-lap race, it represented a decent step forward over the weekend, especially compared with our last race. We’d learned a bit more about setups (with a lot of thanks to my rival TKM Dads, who took pity on me on probably shared a lot more information than they would normally!), Junior had been able to improve his lines a little, the Alpha Timing system’s lap stats were very useful and we’d had an enjoyable weekend.

So our season is over. The engine is in for a rebuild. The kart will be completely stripped as soon as I get a chance and we’ll take 6 weeks off. Unless I get the chance of a drive with a few of the other TKM Dads early in the New Year… 🙂

Cost of weekend: £24 petrol, £13 fuel for the kart, £35 practice fee, £49 race fee

Total spent so far: £4,376

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